While the president is the commander in chief, the US Congress plays a critical and underappreciated role in civil-military relations—the relationship between the armed forces and the civilian leadership that commands it. This unique book edited by Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald will help readers better understand the role of Congress in military affairs and national and international security policy. Contributors include the most experienced scholars in the field as well as practitioners and innovative new voices, all delving into the ways Congress attempts to direct the military.
This book explores four tools in particular that play a key role in congressional action: the selection of military officers, delegation of authority to the military, oversight of the military branches, and the establishment of incentives—both positive and negative—to encourage appropriate military behavior. The contributors explore the obstacles and pressures faced by legislators including the necessity of balancing national concerns and local interests, partisan and intraparty differences, budgetary constraints, the military's traditional resistance to change, and an ongoing lack of foreign policy consensus at the national level. Yet, despite the considerable barriers, Congress influences policy on everything from closing bases to drone warfare to acquisitions.
A groundbreaking study, Congress and Civil-Military Relations points the way forward in analyzing an overlooked yet fundamental government relationship.
In Disarmed Democracies: Domestic Institutions and the Use of Force, David P. Auerswald examines how the structure of domestic political institutions affects whether democracies use force or make threats during international disputes. Auerswald argues that the behavior of democracies in interstate conflict is shaped as much by domestic political calculations as by geopolitical circumstance. Variations in the structure of a democracy's institutions of governance make some types of democracies more likely to use force than others. To test his theory, Auerswald compares British, French, and U.S. behavior during military conflicts and diplomatic crises from the Cold War era to the present. He discusses how accountability and agenda control vary between parliamentary, presidential, and premier-presidential democracies and shows how this affects the ability of the democracy to signal its intentions, as well as the likelihood that it will engage in military conflict. His findings have implications for the study of domestic politics and the use of force, as well as of U.S. leadership during the next century.
This study will interest social scientists interested in the domestic politics of international security, comparative foreign policy, or the study of domestic institutions. It will interest those concerned with the exercise of U.S. leadership in the next century, the use of force by democracies, and the future behavior of democratizing nations.
David P. Auerswald is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University.